Being on patrol in a war-torn city means there’s going to be plenty of random objects laying on the ground. A cute and cuddly rabbit may appear innocent, but in a combat zone, anything can be rigged to blow.
Although this is an enemy booby trap, it was well placed and constructed.
What are you picking up a stuffed bunny for anyway? It’s creepy. (Source: Warner Bros. /Giphy images)
2. Do: stay low
Staying as low as humanly possible is important as seen in “Enemy at the Gates.”
3. Do: have situational awareness
In the infantry, it’s very important to have a solid 360 degree of security in place so the enemy can’t sneak inside and stab you in the stomach like in 2008’s Ben Stiller-directed “Tropic Thunder.” The movie may have been incredibly goofy, but they make a good case how vital it is to know who is in your area.
In any infantry manual, the importance of taking up a spot that defends you from incoming enemy fire is vital. We’re guessing Cowboy, played by Arliss Howard, skipped that chapter of the book while attending the school of infantry.
“Why didn’t you guys tell meeeeeee?” (Source: Warner Bros. /Giphy images)Can you think of any others? Comment below.
The 38th Parallel between North and South Korea isn’t a place known for comedy, and lately it’s been even more un-funny than usual.
American General Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. forces in the country, recently said that tensions on the Korean Peninsula were at their highest level in more than 20 years. So Conan O’Brien took his late night show on the road to provide a little levity for the troops stationed along the DMZ.
They went to the Joint Security Area (JSA) on the border, the only place where North and South Korean troops stand face to face. The JSA is used to hold diplomatic engagements between the two countries who are still technically at war. They were startled to discover the North keeps a closed circuit television feed on the buildings in the JSA to monitor activity there.
While there, O’Brien and crew performed the first late night talk show ever performed in the Hermit Kingdom, albeit just a few feet across the border. His first guest was “The Walking Dead’s” Steven Yeun. Watch the whole segment below, then check out an outtake from the DMZ Gift Shop.
Recently, Oliva Wilde shared that she is slated to direct a feature film for Sony Pictures that will take place in the Marvel Universe. While the details are being kept quiet, rumors are that the story will be about Spider-Woman.
Plus, Wilde tweeted a spider emoji and Sony doesn’t have rights to Black Widow, so…
Though recently, and exceptionally, depicted in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Spider-Woman has yet to appear in her own film, despite decades of popularity. With Disney’s Marvel films continuing to lead the way in superhero box-office triumphs, it’s never been a better time for Spider-Woman to hit the silver screen.
And Olivia Wilde is the perfect person to lead the charge. Last year, her feature film debut Booksmart delighted audiences and critics alike, thrusting Wilde forward as a powerhouse in her own right. The Independent Spirit Award winning director joins Booksmart writer Katie Silberman and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse producer Amy Pascal to create the highly-anticipated film.
Wilde will follow in the footsteps of female filmmakers finally getting long overdue opportunities to bring superheroes to life, including Patty Jenkins, Cathy Yan, Chloe Zhao, and Nia DaCosta — as a result, we probably don’t have to worry about another Spider-Woman butt-gate.
Controversial Spider-Woman #1 cover art. (Marvel)
Instead, Wilde and Silberman ought to give us a pretty good time. Whether Wilde’s Spider-Woman will be Gwen Stacy (as she was in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), Mary Jane Watson, or the OG Jessica Drew is unknown. And of course, it’s always possible the film could be about another character altogether. Sony had been slated to bring forth a Madame Webb film — and there’s always Silk, the Cindy Moon character who was bit by the same spider and on the same day as Peter Parker but who was then locked in a bunker as a result of her powers (dark, right)?
All we have to go on is a little emoji in a big Twitterverse. And if we think we might be getting any more hints anytime soon, we appear to be, sadly, mistaken.
Two F/A-18 Super Hornets tore past an air traffic control tower at Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada June 2109 during filming for the “Top Gun: Maverick,” a sequel to the classic 1980s fighter jet flick.
Kyle Fleming, who captured the spectacular flyby on video, told The Aviationist that it was necessary to recreate the iconic “buzz the tower” scene from the first “Top Gun” film.
Here’s the scene from the 1986 film starring Tom Cruise, who will reappear in the sequel.
A public affairs spokesman for NAS Fallon confirmed to Business Insider that Paramount Pictures was out at the air base from June 10 through June 28, 2019, filming air operations using both in-jet and external cameras.
The spokesman explained that while he say what they were doing, he couldn’t detail how the footage would be used in the film. Paramount Pictures media relations division could not be reached for comment.
Production of the new film started in 2018.
The sequel scheduled for release summer 2020 will see Cruise again play the role of hotshot pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, now a Navy captain who is expected to be mentoring a new class of pilots, including the son of his deceased naval flight officer Lt. j.g. Nick “Goose” Bradshaw.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
This week, National Geographic will air the first episode of The Long Road Home. The miniseries is a scripted retelling of the beginning of the U.S. Army’s fight in the Siege of Sadr City of April 2004. What began with an uprising against the U.S. occupation forces in the Shia neighborhood of the capital led to a long protracted siege spanning years.
The Long Road Home is the story of an ambushed Army escort convoy from 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. It’s based on the true story of a platoon forced to hole up in a civilian home and await rescue. With eight American soldiers lost in the initial fighting in the Baghdad neighborhood, the battle came to be known as “Black Sunday.”
Adapted from ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz’ book of the same name, the show meticulously created what might be the most accurate military story in film or television.
1. The show’s military advisors were in Sadr City that day.
Any military show or movie with an interest in authenticity is going to have veteran technical advisors on hand to tell the director when things are wrong. But in The Long Road Home, you can expect more than infantry badges and rank to be in the right place. You can expect the people and vehicles to be in Sadr City in the right places too.
Showrunner Mikko Alanne hired two veterans from Black Sunday – Eric Bourquin and Aaron Fowler – to be the show’s military advisors. If one of the actors needed to know how to wear a patrol cap, the two veterans could show him. But unlike most shows, if the director needed a minute-by-minute breakdown, he could ask the guys who were there.
“Personally, I like it,” says Fowler. “Because I’m a retired Sergeant First Class, so I have the anal-retentive part down. I’ve got lots of notebooks, and I have access to all the guys. If one of the actors had a question, I could get my phone and hand them the person that did the action they had questions about.”
Jeremy Sisto as Sgt. Robert Miltenberger in The Long Road Home. (National Geographic)
“Eric [Bourquin] was in the platoon that was pinned down on the roof and Aaron [Fowler] was among the rescuers,” says Alanne.
“I’m very proud to be a part of what happened and how it’s been handled. I’ve struggled with having to open up, because having such a wide spotlight cast on a pretty intense part of my life,” says Bourquin. “I learned things I didn’t know transpired. Because the whole time, I was stuck on the roof for four hours. People were out there trying to come in, to get us, so I’d been exposed to a lot of things that I wasn’t aware of and that was healing too. This is honoring them. Now everybody’s gonna always know their story. With that being said, how could I not be involved?”
2. Raddatz’ interviewed everyone close to the fighting.
You don’t get to be the Chief Global Affairs Correspondent of a major network without being addicted to the facts. Martha Raddatz, who literally wrote the book on the events in Sadr City that day, was working for ABC News in Baghdad at the time when she heard about what happened. She ended up talking to everyone from 2-5 Cav that was still in country.
“This story came to me,” she says. “I was covering politics and policy when a general told me about this battle. I had to go talk to these guys. We did pieces for ABC News, for Nightline… I was just so stricken by them. I come from a foreign affairs background and I see presidents make policy and then I went over and saw the effects of that policy.”
She was introduced to the families through the soldiers who fought there that day.
“It will be with me forever,” Raddatz says. “It felt like they could all be my neighbors. One day they’re all in minivans with their kids, and in three days they’re in the middle of a battle. These aren’t a bunch of action figures, these are real human beings.”
3. Mike Medavoy is an executive producer.
If the name of a film producer doesn’t excite you, that’s fine. An executive producer’s name likely doesn’t carry a lot of weight with most of America.
In the case of The Long Road Home, however, the addition of Medavoy puts the miniseries in the hands of a guy who helped make the legendary war movies Apocalypse Now, Platoon, and The Thin Red Line (not to mention non-military films Rocky, Raging Bull, and Terminator 2).
4. The Long Road Home’s depiction of Army families is heartfelt and real.
When the cast arrived at Fort Hood and met the families of 2-5 Cav, they got just a taste of what living in a military family is like.
“I took away an incredible sense of community,” says actress Katie Paxton, who plays Amber Aguero, wife to Lt. Shane Aguero. “You felt that community from the soldiers. When you’re in war covering your sector, you’re covering the guy to your left. You’re covering the guy to your right. And those guys are your family. I never really understood that until I talked to soldiers.”
A still from the opening episode of The Long Road Home. (National Geographic)
“I grew up in the city as a city kid, and this totally dispelled all of my ideas of what the soldier was actually like,” says actor Ian Quinlan, who plays Spc. Robert Arsiaga. “There was a very significant through line between these soldiers – a lot of these guys joined after 9/11. It blew me away because as a New Yorker I didn’t know anyone in my immediate vicinity in New York who would ever think of that.”
“Hearing their stories, you just feel the goosebumps,” says Karina Ortiz, who plays one of the Gold Star Wives. “The soldiers leave and everything is fine at first, but then people start hearing things. Rumors. The waiting. The not knowing. I would get teary-eyed and just feel their pain. Or I’d feel their fear.”
The experience of recreating the events of April 2004 even had an effect on its veterans.
“One of the Gold Star Wives came up to me after the Fort Hood premiere and told me thank you,” Eric Bourquin says. “I don’t know why. Her husband died trying to come rescue us guys that were stuck on the roof. But the more I thought about it I realized everyone watching is going to see what the families and everyone involved goes through when shit happens.”
5. The showrunner’s background is in documentary.
“I was very cognizant from the beginning that real life people were going to be watching this,” says Mikko Alanne. “It was my hope that we would be able to use everyone’s real name, and so Martha and I worked very closely on reaching out to all the families.”
The two were very successful. The show originally premiered in Fort Hood’s Abrams Gym. After the show’s Los Angeles premiere, the veterans and Gold Star Families took the stage with their TV counterparts, to a standing ovation from an elite Hollywood audience. But the realism didn’t stop with cooperation.
A still from The Long Road Home. Sadr City was meticulously recreated on Fort Hood for these scenes. (National Geographic)
“So many of the families sent us their photographs, actual photographs used as props, or photographs of their homes for us to recreate,” Alanne says. “And it was very important to me the cast reached out to their real-life counterparts. Bonds were formed between the actors and the real life families, and everyone became infused with the same mission that Martha really started; that these families and these experiences would not be lost to history.”
6. The Fort Hood scenes are really Fort Hood.
When you see Fort Hood, Tex. depicted on screen, you can be sure that’s what Fort Hood really looks like. The show was shot entirely at Fort Hood. The cast even lived in base housing. More important than that, however, is the exact recreation of Sadr City built on Fort Hood that took the veterans on the base back to April 2004.
“The smell was the only thing that wasn’t exactly recreated,” says Fowler. “We veterans and Gold Star Families got to walk back to the streets of Sadr City that we would never get to go. It was an incredibly healing experience. Exposure therapy plain and simple.”
Eric Bourquin agrees.
“Being able to travel back to your battlespace without fear of being captured and ending up in a YouTube video is a gift that can’t be put into words,” he says. “Just like the guys that go back and visit France, or Korea, or Vietnam — it’s become a reality.”
A candid from behind the scenes of The Long Road Home on Fort Hood. (National Geographic)
The Long Road Home starts Tuesday Nov. 7 at 9pm on National Geographic.
‘A War,’ directed by Tobias Lindholm, is a Danish film nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film this year. The movie follows Danish Army infantry commander Claus Pedersen, played by Pilou Asbæk, as he leads his men in Afghanistan. Claus struggles with the complexities of rules of engagement during a firefight, and has to deal with the consequences of his decisions in a murky military trial back home.
This time, WATM’s Blake Stilwell was invited to meet with Lindholm to discuss the inspiration behind the film, the goals he hoped to accomplish with it, and the decisions he made for the filming process.
If the E-4 mafia, those pesky 2LTs, and the old Command Sergeant Major were wrestlers, what would their gimmick be? It’s difficult for longtime wrestling fans to avoid comparing their fellow servicemembers and veterans to wrestling personalities.
Each rank, be it officer or enlisted, comes with a group of qualities that perfectly fit in the world of pro wrestling/sports entertainment. WWE is such an advocate for the military (and vice versa), and with Wrestlemania kicking off in Dallas this weekend, it seems fitting to use WWE superstars to describe your pay grade.
Young Enlisted (E-1 to E-3)
The Ultimate Warrior
Active and rambunctious, the Ultimate Warrior was known for his signature face paint, ring entrance, and infectious energy as he performed in front of thousands of fans around the world. Coming out of initial training, many young service members are full of energy, fit to fight, and looking to take on the world. Young privates feel they can accomplish anything thrown their way. Although, much like the Ultimate Warrior’s interviews and promos, they can also speak a lot of nonsense.
Specialists/Senior Airmen (E-4)
Jake “the Snake” Roberts
With the wisdom of a sergeant but the responsibilities of a private, members of the E-4 mafia are cerebral and hypnotic as they slither their way out of details and play mind games with authority figures. Like a good E-4, Roberts had the smarts to avoid the dirty work, but the skills to achieve greatness when he wanted to.
Junior NCOs (E-5 to E-6)
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin
The Texas Rattlesnake was confident, brash and would stomp a mud hole on anyone who crossed him. Those new stripes make young NCOs feel like the baddest SOB in the command. They have a sense of confidence and even stand up to authority just like Stone Cold would do to WWF owner Vince McMahon by giving him the Stone Cold Stunner. Junior NCOs are also masters at double fisting beer cans. Give them a hell yeah!
Senior NCOs (E-7 to E-8)
The first thing senior NCOs have in common with Mick Foley is the split personalities: Nice one minute, intense the next. Whether he was Cactus Jack, Dude Love, or Mankind, Mrs. Foley’s baby boy is one of wrestling’s most iconic figures. He put his body on the line every night for 20 years and just like Senior NCOs, his body has taken a pounding over the years.
They may have throbbing knees, sore backs, and carry a few extra pounds with age, but they are still tough to take the pain and keep fighting. Watch 1998’s King of the Ring “Hell in a Cell” match to see the legend of Mick Foley.
CSM/Senior Master Chief (E-9)
“Nature Boy” Ric Flair
“To be the man, you have to beat the man” WOOO! The CSM is styling and profiling as the guardian of the colors. Our E-9s have put in many years of hard work and service. It’s ok to flaunt a little bit now like the Nature Boy. And believe me those $600 alligator-skinned shoes are staying off the grass.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Before he was one of Hollywood’s A-listers, The Rock was a rank-and file wrestler working his way to the top of the card as “Rocky Maivia” when he debuted in 1996. Before they were Warrants Officers, they were enlisted Soldiers and NCOs paying their dues.Today, The Rock only returns to the ring when it is time for ‘Mania. He is rarely seen and only shows up before a big event. Sounds like our lovable warrants.
Lieutenants/Captains (O-1 to O-3)
Roman Reigns thinks he is ready for increased responsibilities. Roman has the look, the tools and the family lineage to make him a great wrestler. However, he lacks the experience and hasn’t paid his dues. Our L-Ts are groomed for greatness, and they may great one day, but are not ready to be the main event. L-Ts still have much to learn.
Field Grade Officers (O4 to O5)
John Cena lives by the slogan “Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect.” This is the motto of field grade officers. After 15 years, they are at the top of their game. Just as Cena is either loved or hated by wrestling fans, with field grade officers,Some people love them and some people hate them.
Except for maybe Hulk Hogan, the Undertaker may well be the most legendary wrestler of all-time. His presence is menacing as he looms in the shadows only to appear when we least expect it. The mere sight of that full bird brings a level of intimidation among the formation. With that eagle comes great power.
The Undertaker also had his unsettling manager Paul Bearer, who carried an urn to the ring, at his side at all times. The Colonel makes sure his Executive Officer or Aide is present at all times carrying the powerful OD green notebook.
Generals (O-7 to O-10)
Vince is the chairman and CEO of the WWE. He is the boss, the general. Bad idea to cross him. That’ll get you fired.
A military caregiver is a family member, friend or acquaintance who provides care and assistance for a military servicemember over a wide range of physical and mental illnesses and injuries.
Sky Blossom salutes the children and millennials who are “going to school, holding down jobs, and living out their youth while at the same time looking after a veteran family member with serious medical conditions.
Journalist and director Richard Lui has firsthand experience as a caretaker. When his father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he had to learn how to balance caregiving for his father while working full-time.
WATCH THE TRAILER:
“I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to keep my job or not,” he said. According to AARP, Lui’s boss was a long-distance caregiver, too, and allowed him to provide care for his father during the week and maintain his job as a national news anchor on the weekends.
While adapting to his new role was challenging, Lui attests that it brought his family closer together and inspired the concept for Sky Blossom.
According to data from an AARP report, there are 24.5 million children and millennials who care for the nation’s disabled veterans and other adults. Lui’s film shares their experiences with an uplifting message — and a compelling one. Sky Blossom is on Variety’s short list of documentary features predicted to receive an Academy Award nomination.
The phrase “sky blossom” was used to describe paratroopers rushing to the aid of wounded troops, making it a fitting title for the caregivers who aid their wounded veterans, many of them silently. This film, especially if it does earn some award nominations, will open America’s eyes to the families, friends, and loved ones who support the troops in a very intimate and oftentimes all-encompassing way.
The production followed five families over the course of three years, documenting the teens and 20-somethings as they grew up “and grew into their roles as caregivers,” shared Lui.
“The interviews with each of the families were so honest and raw, unlike anything I’ve seen in my 25-year long career as a journalist,” said Lui in a statement. “I left each interview inspired by the courage of these teens and 20-somethings.”
The film premiered on Veteran’s Day 2020 at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and audiences can expect to see it distributed more widely in 2021.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge may not officially open until the end of June 2019, but for some fans, it could happen even sooner. Nearly a month sooner, to be exact, according to an update from Disneyland on April 22, 2019, which revealed how visitors can snag early passes to the park.
“If you are planning to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at the Disneyland Resort between May 31 and June 23, 2019, a reservation and theme park admission are required,” the resort posted on its website, adding that reservations do not cost extra but that they are “subject to availability.”
Registration will open on May 2, 2019, at 10 a.m. PT on Disneyland.com after more specific instructions are posted two hours prior at 8 a.m. PT. Guests will need to have a Disney account before registering, which Disneyland recommends creating ahead of time.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge | Behind the Scenes at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort
Additionally, anyone who wants a guaranteed reservation can book a room at one of the park’s three official hotels (Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel) between May 31 and June 23, 2019. Each guest over the age of three will receive one reservation for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Based on confirmation emails that Disneyland has sent to visitors who have already booked rooms, the hotel reservations are good for strict four-hour time slots. Not only are guests required to leave as soon as their four hours are up but Polygonreports that the email notes, “If you decide to leave Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge before your reservation time is over, you will not be allowed to reenter.”
For anyone who doesn’t get a reservation, the new Star Wars land will open to the general public on June 24, 2019, in Hollywood and on Aug. 29, 2019, in Orlando.
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
Being clean shaven every day in the military is an absolute must — unless you’re a special forces operator and are allowed to grow out a manly beard. Every morning, men (and some women) wake up during with a 5 o’clock shadow that is required to disappear before morning muster.
But the day you signed your DD-214 and no longer fall under the rules and regulations of shaving, it’s time to grow out that impressive separation beard — just because you can.
Not every beard is right for the individual. With several types of styles to choose from, it’s necessary to grow one that fits your specific personality. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you pick one out that fits your unique look.
Not to be mistaken for the “Homeless Man,” this style says “I work my ass for a living, but it’s usually somewhere outside in the cold.” It’s popular for keeping your face warm and catching food crumbs.
2. The Chuck Norris
One of our favorites, this traditional style relays to the world that not only can you be rugged, but you take enough time to trim up. This typically looks good enough to step into the boardroom for a presentation, then head right out to the gun range.
Chuck Norris doesn’t shave — he orders his beard to stop growing.
3. The “I’m not too worried about it”
This unique look informs the world you’re just chilling, you’re in no hurry, and whatever happens, happens.
Named after the talent actor-comedian Zack Galifianakis, this ensures your fellow man that you’re a hard worker, but you know how to crack a good joke and don’t take life too seriously.
5. The Fuzz
Not everyone can grow a full separation beard — some of us grow them in thin-to-thick patches.
This doesn’t inform the world you have low testosterone (the male’s dominant hormone) because it isn’t a facial hair growth factor — dihydrotestosterone is the chemical that promotes thick beard growth and unfortunately is linked to hair loss. Bummer!
We still respect your commitment.
6. The Shaggy
A fashionable look for those who received their separation paperwork and ran straight to the bar, leaving their razor or clipper behind in the barracks.
A trailer dropped today for a Sonic the Hedgehog film and honestly I don’t know how to feel about it.
The Lego film proved that anything is on the table with regards to nostalgia and storytelling. There’s no reason not to make a Sonic the Hedgehog film — 9/10 90’s kids agree that game was radical — and yet…I just don’t know if these guys can pull this one off.
Check out the trailer — and then let’s discuss.
Sonic The Hedgehog (2019) – Official Trailer – Paramount Pictures
Now, the best thing they did was use Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise in this trailer. Coolio was both a firefighter and a crack addict and this song evokes that exact combination. It always has. It always will. When Gangsta’s Paradise plays, sh** is about to go down (which reminds me: who else was today old when they learned that there’s an entire Sonic fetish subculture? Don’t look into it at work).
The film is a live-action adventure comedy about Sonic and his new human friend Tom Wachowski (played by Cyclops James Marsden, the hero gets Jody’d in every film he’s in) as they take on Jim Carrey’s Dr. Robotnik.
In the trailer, our fast friend captures the attention of the U.S. military when he causes an energy surge that knocks out power across the entire Pacific Northwest. They team up with Dr. Robotnik to track down the little fella, presumably unaware that Robotnik is one of the most notorious 90s villains out there.
Military movies traditionally focus the lens on the troops fighting overseas while skipping the story of the families at home.
Here are 6 movie scenes that remind viewers how hard the lives of military spouses and children can be:
1. “We Were Soldiers” – Notification of next of kin
Families of deployed service members live with the dread of a casualty notification officer showing up. Families from the Vietnam War and earlier conflicts had the same fear, but it was embodied in taxi drivers who delivered dreaded telegrams. In “We Were Soldiers,” Julia Moore almost loses it when a cabbie walks to her door. Luckily he’s not there for her, just directions to another house.
2. “A War” – Family members are never the only priority
Service members have to juggle the needs of the nation with the needs of their family. In this clip from the Oscar-nominated “A War,” the commander’s wife argues for her husband to say whatever it takes to avoid jail time after an errant airstrike. For Claus Pederson, the commander, the necessity of supporting his family’s needs has to be balanced with the needs of his troops.
3. “American Sniper” – The family never knows when the service member is safe, except when they know they aren’t
Troops usually know whether the current danger level is high or low. They get updated on local threats, know when they’re safe behind walls or in the most dangerous part of the battlefield, and are watching out for enemies.
For family members, the threat is always real and they never know if their soldier is in relative safety or outside the wire. The only exception is when they’re actively speaking to their loved one, in which case every background noise is terrifying.
4. “The Hurt Locker” – The soldier who comes home may not be the one who left
“Hurt Locker” was Oscar gold but hated-on by vets (for good reason). But it got some parts of the military experience right. In this scene, explosive ordnance disposal technician William James is playing with his son while talking through his own scars from deployment. The family will often want to help, but troops may want to talk only rarely or not at all.
For James, the best course of action was apparently to talk to the only family member who can’t possibly understand.
5. “American Sniper” – PTSD can be a tough problem for military families
While most movies overplay the symptoms of PTSD, “American Sniper” earned a lot of credit for portraying a vet afflicted by the disorder as mostly just stuck in their own thoughts, rather than showing them as a caricature of violence.
American Sniper had other good scenes about vets struggling with normal relations at home, including this one from a barbecue and the scene in a mechanic’s shop.
6. “Independence Day” – Military families face national crises without a head of household
While “Independence Day” is hardly a gritty war movie, it contains one scene that reflects a dark reality for military families. When Will Smith’s Capt. Steven Hiller learns that aliens have arrived on earth, he immediately heads to base to get ready for a fight.
When the U.S. was attacked on 9/11, most Americans were reeling from the surprise attack and military families had to recover while their loved ones went to bases to get ready for deployment. President George W. Bush even said in his speech for all Americans with a uniform to get it ready.
After months watching the presidential election approach, using as much information as possible in making a voting decision, and constantly hearing the same things from the same people some families dug in their heels on election night. Mine was one.
Nothing was going to be settled early on election night, so why watch the same talk over and over? Therefore, my family suggested to take a break and enjoy some entertainment for a few hours instead. I acquiesced and was, after the fact, glad I did.
“The Gentlemen,” the latest film from Guy Ritchie, was the perfect antidote and a great way to kill a few hours before turning back into non-stop election news. Although the film was released in January, it was time to revisit it and look at it critically, since I was in the mood.
First, I have to make a confession. I have always been a huge fan of Guy Ritchie’s films or “fill-ems” as Colin Farrell says (more to that below). “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch” are some of my favorites. Ritchie has also directed the Sherlock Holmes series, “The Man from Uncle,” and “King Arthur – Legend of the Sword” with Charlie Hunnam, who also appears in “The Gentlemen.”
In his movies, Ritchie pays homage to the great spaghetti western director Sergio Leone and to Quentin Tarrantino, two of his biggest influences. In Ritchie’s best films, which center around British gangsters, those two influences shine through.
He often uses a cast of characters with different stories and angles who intersect into each other’s lives (a theme found in Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in the West” and Tarrantino’s “Pulp Fiction.”). His dialogue is snappy and crisp and the characters speak the patois of the streets. They are usually gangsters with Cockney accents that are sometimes almost impossible to decipher.
In “The Gentlemen,” Ritchie returns to the genre that has served him well. An American named Mickey Pearson, excellently portrayed by Matthew McConaughey, is the biggest marijuana dealer in England. He has connections all through Europe to sell his weed, but nobody knows where he gets it from.
Mickey is number one and everyone is looking to knock him off his perch. Especially when he decides he wants out of the business to spend time with his wife Roz, whom he refers to as a “Cockney Cleopatra” and is ably played by Michelle Dockery.
Yet, the entire story revolves around the slimy, private detective/investigative reporter Fletcher played almost over the top by Hugh Grant. Fletcher has dirt on everybody and thinks he is slick enough and smarter than everyone else that he can blackmail everyone. Meanwhile, he is penning a screenplay and tries to sell it to Miramax Pictures, which not so coincidentally produced this film…a little free advertising.
Fletcher approaches Mickey’s brilliant right-hand man Ray (Charlie Hunnam). At first glance, Ray is the boss’ office nerd, dressing in dress shirts and ties and handling all the office BS. But Ray is not nerdy, he’s just such a badass. He doesn’t have to show how badass he is until the gloves come off. He is somewhat reminiscent of Vinnie Jones’s excellent but slightly different “Bullet-Tooth Tony” in “Snatch.”
The two main gangsters trying to move in on Mickey’s business are “Dry-Eye,” a Chinese-Cockney gangster who is backdooring his own boss, and “Matthew Berger,” a somewhat stereotypical Jewish double-dealing businessman played by Jeremy Strong.
When Mickey shows Berger where he grows his ganja that’s when the shit really hits the fan. One of Mickey’s grow labs gets raided by a group of totally badass black MMA fighters who beat the hell out of the crew there and steal all the pot plants.
Their MMA “Coach” is hilariously played by Colin Farrell who steals every scene he’s in. He is furious at his fighters for what they did because he knows who owns the pot-growing facility. He pleads with Ray not to harm his fighters and vows to make it up to Mickey. He then spends the rest of the film telling everyone that he’s a coach and not a gangster but then acts like a badass gangster.
Farrell wears these outlandish Tartan plaid tracksuits that just add to his persona. He looks like he had a ball playing this character and it shows through with his performance.
The film builds to a wild climax where all of the pieces tie together. Grant and McConaughey alternate as narrators, but as in Ritchie’s other films, the climax ends up with a lot of violence, including at least one requisite bullet to the back of the head.
The cast is large and talented, and Ritchie blends them all together in his own brilliant fashion.
He gave an interview a while back speaking about how he creates his films and characters.
“My creative process has never been something I can put into words. It’s very random, very scattered and can sometimes lead down dark alleyways and dead ends. What I will say is I think any director needs to immerse himself in both real life and in history to fully open up creative processes. And you must be prepared for the reality that any creative process worth its salt needs to be revised, reworked, and, on occasion, thrown out the window entirely.”
If you are in need of some great action and hilariously funny scenes, check out Ritchie’s latest and greatest, “The Gentlemen.” And you still won’t miss out on any election non-stop talk…